Vietnam again vows tour boat crackdown
AFP 13 May 2011
Vietnam has again vowed to crack down on tour boat safety after foreign visitors had a lucky escape from their sinking vessel, in an eerie echo of a fatal accident earlier this year. There were no injuries in the latest incident, which involved 28 French tourists on Sunday afternoon at the popular attraction of Halong Bay.
Local authorities have taken "very active measures to investigate and review" what happened, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters. "We will conduct very close monitoring and supervision activities to avoid any further events taking place in the future," she said.
According to Dang Huy Hau, government vice-president in Quang Ninh province, the boat went down after a collision with another craft delivering water. But the French tour group leader, Josette Farret, told AFP there was "absolutely no collision". The tourists were transferred to another boat before it completely sank, Hau said.
Authorities have suspended operations of Hai Long Co Ltd, the boat operator, while they investigate, the official Vietnam News reported. In Vietnam's worst tourism accident, 11 tourists and their guide died in February when a boat sank in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning limestone cliffs, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Hanoi. A senior provincial official said water leakage resulting from human error was the most likely cause of that incident. The boat's captain and engineer were arrested for investigation over alleged safety violations, which prompted authorities to carry out a safety inspection of 135 boats in the Halong Bay tour fleet.
Vietnam in prostitution crackdown
AFP 13 May 2011
Vietnam has unveiled a five-year multi-million-dollar crackdown on prostitution, which is widespread but considered a "social evil" in the communist country. The plan aims to reduce prostitution by an initial 40 percent by 2015, the government said in a statement on its website dated Thursday. With a budget of 629 billion dong ($30 million), the programme "looks to free communes and towns from prostitution and minimise harms of this social issue on society," it said. Investigations, job training for former sex workers and public awareness are among the measures the government said will be taken to battle prostitution, which is illegal. Local media have reported estimates of 30,000-40,000 prostitutes nationwide, and the industry has continued to flourish despite previous campaigns against it.
Vietnam should brace for ageing population, expert says
DPA 13 May 2011
Vietnam must «prepare now rather than later» to support its rapidly ageing population or face economic challenges, an expert warned Friday. A ‘very clear trend’ indicated that 10 per cent of the population would be over 60 in six years, said Giang Thanh Long, vice dean of the School of Public Policy and Management. 'If we do not do anything, a lot of elderly people will have bad health and we will need to get them treated,' he said. 'We can't throw them away on the street.'
As more than 60 per cent of the country's 86 million people were born after the Vietnam War ended in 1979, Vietnam is often thought of as a young country. But because of higher life expectancy and family planning, the proportion of people over 60 is projected to hit 20 per cent by 2035, making it an officially aged country. Experts were most concerned by the rate of change, which could be faster than even Japan's. A suddenly aged population would create tremendous challenges for socioeconomic development, Long said.
In addition to losses of productivity, the elderly represent costs through pensions and health care. According to the General Office for Population and Family Planning, the number of Vietnamese people 60 and above reached 8.1 million by April 1 last year, 9.4 per cent of the total population and 4 per cent higher than the 2009 figures.
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